Os Guinness is always one of those writers I find intriguing. He combines solid scholarship and cultural analysis to give highly readable, practical ways of addressing the issues at hand. (I think he would hate that description by the way because he wants us to think at a higher level. Forgive my practicality.) We both believe in the power of the Gospel to change the fabric of society and not get lost in the weeds of left/right political scrums.
His newest book Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times is well organized, easy to digest and understand, and short enough for busy pastors like our clients to be read in a day.
I think our generation tends to be short sighted. I think it has been true for many different generations to think that “we live in the darkest of times.” Guinness points to some of this as far back as Augustine, and when you read about that context you will see how it could be used to describe our society’s state today.
Guinness calls for a new Christian Renaissance laying out the terms by which believers and the church must deal with modern and postmodern worldviews, individualism, consumerism, libertinism and other cultural ills. And he fees the strength of the Christian West must be the leaders in this new culture creation:
“ ..cultural creation requires a long obedience over several generations, which requires steady engagement with wider society through the callings of all believers in all their lives, which requires strong, stable lives lived in common, which requires a vibrant worshiping, teaching and fellowshiping community, which requires a faith that is true to Jesus above all rival elements such as personal lifestyle, political party, economic imperatives and entertainment fashions.”
A long sentence of which I wholly agree.
And one more in that vein:
“When the followers of Jesus live out the gospel in the world, as we are called to do, we become an incarnation of the truth of the gospel and an expression of the character and shape of its truth. It is this living-in-truth that proves culturally powerful.”
Amen to that.
The book closed with a chapter of hope calling believers to the why and some of the “how” steps toward societal renewal.
“The time has come to trust God, move out, sharing and demonstrating the good news, following his call and living out our callings in every area of our lives, and then leave the outcome to him…..We wait for God’s answer, but as we wait, we work.”
As my mentor used to say: time to quit cursing the darkness and start lighting some candles.
I think this book would be appropriate for staff and some small group discussion. It comes with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I highly commend the short time it will take to read. It will challenge and enlighten.
Note: Unlike the previous IVP book I reviewed this one was sent to me by the publisher. I made no commitment to review or promote to them but I found the book highly worth recommending to others. The book link above clicks to a referral link where a small portion of the price goes to Leadership Network.